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From a Chevrolet Camaro to a Corvette Stingray Concept to a Hummer H2, these are the best cars from the Transformers movies.

Transformers: Age of Extinction cars - @chevrolet on twitter.com
Transformers: Age of Extinction cars - @chevrolet on twitter.com

There’s no question that the Transformers movies (all six of them, so far) gave a huge platform to some very visible General Motors vehicles. The Pontiac Solstice, GMC Topkick, and Hummer H2 all received a lot of screen time. Throughout the franchise, the Transformers have replicated a Ferrari 458 Italia, a Mercedes E-Class sedan, a Chevy Jolt, and, of course, a Chevrolet Camaro. The Camaro was Bumblebee’s chosen aesthetic. Even Chevrolet admits that the Transformers movies, featuring alien robots that can shapeshift into motor vehicles, made the Camaro a star. Sales specifically for a yellow Camaro increased by 10% after the first Transformers movie was released in 2007. GM sold 60,000 Camaros in 2009 and 80,000 in 2010, crediting the sales to the Transformers exposure in front of a younger audience.

Rise of the Beasts, another Transformers movie, is set to release in theaters in 2022, so we’re likely to see a whole new batch of sharp, fun, and interesting vehicles. Will they be primarily GM? Will another automobile company try to get some free publicity? I think it’s safe to assume seeing at least some GM presence again, but it’s hard to say. This movie will be set in Brooklyn, Peru, and other areas. With settings like that, the seventh installment of the Transformers series has a great chance to branch out a little and throw in an oddball here or there.

Until we find out what vehicles are included in Rise of the Beasts, here’s a look at some of the best cars used in the Transformers movies so far.

Hound as a Mercedes-Benz Unimog

Mercedes-Benz Unimog - walkoARTvideos on YouTube.com
Mercedes-Benz Unimog - walkoARTvideos on YouTube.com

Hound never really brought the ‘Wow’ factor from a stylistic standpoint, but he was a fun character. His transformation was appropriate, as well. For Hound, voiced by John Goodman, the Transformers producers used a green Mercedes-Benz Unimog Military Tactical Ambulance. Beefy and highly mobile, the vehicle may not be one that first comes to mind as ‘car mode’ for a Transformer to morph into, but it makes absolute sense after thinking about it. He’s not flashy, but he gets the job done. You have to wonder what the casting process was like for these movies. Pairing a voice actor, a Transformers character, and a vehicle together can’t be an easy task, but they nailed it with this choice.

Ratchet as a Hummer H2 Search and Rescue

Hummer H2 - automotionind on YouTube.com
Hummer H2 - automotionind on YouTube.com

The Autobots’ medic, Ratchet, can be seen in the first several Transformers movies. As a medic, he needs power and the ability to store a lot of things. It made sense that the producers of the Transformers series thought of the Hummer H2 Search and Rescue vehicle as a fitting choice for Ratchet. Colored with the bright yellow and an orange line in the form of the heartbeat insignia, the H2 included a 393-horsepower, 6.2L V8 gasoline engine with 415 lb-ft of torque. Ratchet, in H2 form, may not be the fastest Autobot, but he’s definitely solid and certainly reliable.

Dropkick as an AMC Javelin and Shatter as a Plymouth Satellite

AMC Javelin and Plymouth Satellite - imdb.com
AMC Javelin and Plymouth Satellite - imdb.com

This evil duo were the main antagonists in the Bumblebee movie. Both took the form of a pair of muscle cars. Voiced by Justin Theroux, Dropkick was a blue AMC Javelin. The movie was set in the 1980s. By that point the Javelin had been out of production for about a decade. Angela Bassett voiced Shatter, who changed into a cherry-red Plymouth Satellite, out of production for at least a decade by the time frame in the movie. With the red and blue colors, the jacked-up wheels, and the multiple headlights, these two cars driving side-by-side made for a fun moment in the movie. The two vehicles weren’t highlighted as much as they could’ve been because these two characters spent much of the movie in robot form. They also shapeshifted into a fighter jet and a helicopter. Even though it was only a few shots, the AMC Javelin and the Plymouth Satellite were good choices for the automobile forms of these two characters.

Hot Rod as a Lamborghini Centenario LP770-4

Lamborghini Centenario LP770-4 - imcdb.org
Lamborghini Centenario LP770-4 - imcdb.org

Introduced in one of the last Transformer movies, Hot Rod took the form of a Lamborghini Centenario LP770-4. Much of that movie took place in Europe, so it made sense that the movie branched out of the GMC stronghold and added some international flavor to the Transformers’ car forms. As one of the main Transformers in that movie, Hot Rod (and the Lamborghini Centenario) received a lot of screen time and attention. At the time, the vehicle was one of only 20 units made, so it came with a hefty pre-tax price tag of $1.9 million. With the mostly black exterior and little bit of orange trim, the supercar looked incredible! With just one appearance in the Transformers movie franchise, it’s still one of the best.

Crosshairs as a Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray

Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray - media.gm.com
Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray - media.gm.com

Not something out of comic book or animated lore, Crosshairs was a brand-new character introduced for the fourth and fifth Transformers movies. This mechanical and weapons specialist took the automobile form of a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray. With a bright green tint, Crosshairs very quickly stood out from the rest of the pack. The dynamic body shape and color owned the big screen. That standout green tint was made specifically for the movie. Timing the release of the C7 with the release of the Transformers movie certainly didn’t hurt the exposure or the anticipation for the vehicle.

Sideswipe as a Corvette Stingray concept

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray concept - imcdb.org
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray concept - imcdb.org

Who says villains can’t be cool, too? Definitely not dull, Sideswipe was a nice counter to Bumblebee’s Camaro in the Transformer movies. Sideswipe isn’t the leader of the pack, but, in car form, he’s a quick, versatile opponent that is sure to catch some attention.

With a sleek design like the Corvette Stingray, there’s no way to avoid attention.

Sideswipe may not have the colorful green and black finish that Crosshairs had with the C7 Stingray, but this silver Corvette Stingray Concept was just as memorable. Director Michael Bay liked the Stingray Concept so much, he created a character in the movie for it, naming him ‘Sideswipe.’

Lockdown as a Lamborghini Aventador

Lamborghini Aventador - imcdb.org
Lamborghini Aventador - imcdb.org

One of the Decepticons, Lockdown, chose the form of a Lamborghini Aventador. It’s appropriate. It was one of the first times that a villain in the franchise landed such an impressive automobile form. While very stylish, the vehicle is also dark with the matte black finish. The little bits of red in and around the wheels are a nice finishing touch. Looking at the vehicle, you could see it being a hero in the movie because it gives off such a grand vibe, but the low-to-the-ground body lends itself to more of a villainous character. With a good amount of screen time in the first hour of the movie, Lockdown and his Lamborghini Aventadtor form made quite an impression!

Megatron as a Mack Titan 10 Wheeler

Mack Titan - Mack Trucks Historical Museum on YouTube.com
Mack Titan - Mack Trucks Historical Museum on YouTube.com

It’s understandable that most of the Decepticons aren’t branded vehicles. The car companies don’t want the publicity of being associated with the villain who is trying to take over the world. For the most part, Megatron, the Decepticon leader, used nondescript vehicles, whether it was tanks or a jet. However, by the third Transformers movie, he received a makeover and transformed into a Mack Titan 10 wheeler fuel tank truck. Large enough to be a convincing opponent to Optimus Prime, the Mack Titan truck is both durable and imposing.

Barricade as a Saleen S-281

Saleen S-281 - CoolFords.com on YouTube.com
Saleen S-281 - CoolFords.com on YouTube.com

An imposter alien robot cop? Yikes! Nobody wants to be on the wrong side of that. This Decepticon wrongdoer looked absolutely awesome as a 2007 Saleen S-281 Extreme, based on a Ford Mustang. Three of the Mustangs were actually created for the movie. One was for the screen and two others were used as press cars. The modified Mustang has a 4.6 liter single overhead camshaft V8 engine that puts out 525 lb-ft of torque. Rather than using the words ‘to protect and serve,’ the word’s ‘to punish and enslave’ can be seen on Barricade’s police car imitation.

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Barricade received a slight upgrade for the fifth Transformers movie. This time, it was a Ford Mustang with a more aggressive look thanks to a rear wing and some large front bumper push bars. No matter which version you’re talking about, Barricade was one of the most memorable vehicles from the Transformers movies.

Ironhide as a GMC Topkick C4500

GMC Topkick C4500 - imcdb.org
GMC Topkick C4500 - imcdb.org

Ironhide is some formidable muscle on the Autobots side of things. He looks every bit as formidable as a GMC Topkick C4500 heavy duty pickup. Ironhide was involved in several chases and disputes during the movies and this vehicle was a perfect choice for the character. He’s definitely got some brawn, whether he’s in human-like form or in car mode. The image of the oversized, jet black, 11,300 lb. powerhouse rolling down the highways and Interstates is a memorable one!

Optimus Prime as a Peterbilt 379 and Western Star 5700

Peterbilt 379 - imcdb.org
Peterbilt 379 - imcdb.org

As the leader of the Autobots, it was imperative that Optimus Prime looked large and in charge. A blue Peterbilt 379 was used to convey that look in the first Transformers movie. As the largest highway truck sold by Peterbilt at its launch, the 379 was a great way to introduce the world to Optimus Prime in a way we’d never seen him before. Optimus received a few custom paint jobs throughout the Transformers series, but his look largely remained the same for the first several films.

Western Star 5700 - @WstrnStarTrucks on twitter.com
Western Star 5700 - @WstrnStarTrucks on twitter.com

By the fourth movie of the franchise, Optimus was in hiding, disguised as a 1973 Marmon Cabover truck. Eventually he displayed his new form as a flame-covered 2014 Western Star 5700. It was a nice upgrade that was very much in line with the Optimus Prime character! If the Transformers were a brand-new franchise and starting from scratch in 2021, the creators may have imagined Optimus Prime as a tank or a dump truck or even a cargo plane, but they made the right choice with the semi-truck. It’s a look that still works today. It’s not an indestructible vehicle, but it commands respect, looks good with some sheen on it, and it appeals to all ages. It’s a classic.

Other Non-Transforming Cars

Austin-Healey 3000 MK III - imcdb.org
Austin-Healey 3000 MK III - imcdb.org

Before going on to the best transforming car of the Transformers movie, there needs to be a space in this entry to appreciate some of the non-transforming cars that were seen throughout the franchise.

There was Sam’s father’s green 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 MK III convertible from the first movie.

Megan Fox’s character was riding around on a Piaggio Vespa LX 150 in the first Transformers.

Lastly, while he never transformed into a ground vehicle, Starscream’s depiction as an F-22 Raptor combat fighter was one of the most fun things to see in all the movies. The footage Michael Bay shot of the combat fighter soaring through the skies was artistic and impactful.

Bumblebee as a Chevy Camaro and VW Beetle

Chevrolet Camaro - media.gm.com
Chevrolet Camaro - media.gm.com

Bumblebee, one of the main characters in the Transformers franchise, was originally a Volkswagen Beetle in the first animated series. Director Michael Bay took a chance and gave Bumblebee an updated look for 2007’s Transformers movie: a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro. Beat up and rusted, the ’77 Camaro wasn’t the shiny, new car that a lot of people may have wanted. Not too far into that first movie, Bumblebee morphed into a fifth-generation Camaro with black racing stripes down the center of the vehicle. It was a car that instantly hooked the automotive audience that was watching. The car wasn’t actually available at that time, though. The movie, released in 2007, had to use the 2006 Camaro Concept from the auto show circuit the year before. Two years later, when the fifth-generation Camaro was released, it was already cemented as being one of the coolest cars around. By that point the second Transformers movie, Revenge of the Fallen, had been released, too.

There wasn’t much of a change for the third Transformers movie. Bumblebee’s yellow Chevrolet Camaro upgraded to the SS model with darker wheels, but nothing that fundamentally shifted away from was previously seen. By 2014, when the Transformers franchise was on its fourth movie, they’d asked Chevrolet to provide Bumblebee with a fresher look, making him more aggressive and muscular. The vehicle was bulked up on the sides and given a new fascia.

The last version of Bumblebee was in 2018’s Bumblebee movie, which is actually a prequel to the first Transformers movie. In his very first moments on Earth, Bumblebee finds himself in a forest with some U.S. service members. One of the only vehicles nearby is a Willys Jeep. After quickly scanning the Jeep and assessing the situation, Bumblebee flees.

Volkswagen Beetle - imcdb.org
Volkswagen Beetle - imcdb.org

For a few, brief moments, he transforms into a yellow Willys Jeep, high-tailing it over the unpaved wooded terrain. From a timeline perspective, the Willys Jeep was the very first vehicle form Bumblebee took. That only lasted for one scene though. Eventually, Bumblebee took another form for most of the movie.

Set in the 1980s, it was only appropriate that Bumblebee wasn’t the rustic ’77 Camaro or the sleek 2010 Camaro. Instead, Bumblebee was seen as a fairly beat up, yellow 1967 Volkswagen Beetle. He was supposed to be a junker by that point. Regardless of how beat up the vehicle was, it’s hard to make a Beetle look bad. Even without his now famous Camaro form, the mainstay Transformer looked good as a Beetle. Plus, it was a nice nod to the fans of the animated series, where Bumblebee actually was a Volkswagen and not a Camaro.

Rise of the Beasts is set in 1994, after the Bumblebee movie, so it will be interesting to see what 1990s forms Bumblebee, or the other Transformers, may take. Here’s hoping they’re impressive enough to be added to this list!

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Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson earned his journalism degree from South Dakota State University. No stranger to newsgathering and reporting, Jesse spent 13 years in TV news. 10 of those years were spent working in Charlotte, NC, home of NASCAR. A highlight of his time there was being able to take a lap around the Charlotte Motor Speedway. His interest in vehicles, starting with Matchbox cars, a Big Wheel, and the Transformers, evolved into taking photos of motocross events. Now, he puts his research skills to use on car culture, reviews, and comparisons.

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous September 30, 2021

    Um, the Mercedes SLS AMG did transform into Decepticon Soundwave.

    Reply

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